9 cool camel experiences in the UAE

9 cool camel experiences in the UAE



From camel riding to camel racing, here's how to meet camels in the UAE.

Australia has kangaroos, the United States has bald eagles and the UAE has camels. The UAE's much-loved animal can be found across the country in camel farms, camel races and, of course, as cuddly camel toys. 

Camels have been domesticated in the Arabian Peninsula for more than 3,500 years. You are more likely to find the single humped camel (dromedary) in Arabia and the two humped camel (Bactrian) in Asia. Historically, camels were used on trade routes to transport goods, for food and milk, and among Bedouin tribes as part of a bride's dowry. 

Today, camels are a tourist attraction in their own right. There's even World Camel Day on 22 July, which recognises the role that the animal plays in the livelihood of people across the world. So, take your interest in camels one hump further, here are the best camel experiences in the UAE. 

Al Ain Camel Market 

It's easy to spot Al Ain Camel Market, as you'll see locals arriving with goats, sheep and, of course, camels. The market includes young Arabian camels that have racing potential and adult camels that are ideal for breeding. While you might not exactly want to take a camel home, you can get close to these beauties by taking photos and watching a mock race – it's great for the gram. The market is open daily from 6am to 7pm.

Al Khawaneej Racing Track 

If you want to watch camel racing, we'd recommend Al Marmoom Heritage Village, but there's no harm in getting a rerun at Dubai's Al Khawaneej Racing Track. The events attract a culturally diverse crowd, and hosts races on modern versions of traditional race tracks. Make a day out of it, as it is located near a cycling track, farm, horse riding school and stables.

Al Lisaili Camel Market 

You'll hear the groans before you see the animals at Dubai's Al Lisaili Camel Market – and what glorious animals they are, especially the baby ones. Dubai Municipality's public market is located in a camel hub, as it's near Al Marmoom Heritage Village and Dubai Camel Hospital, which is the first hospital in the world to exclusively treat camels. Expect to be approached by local buyers who promise to give you a "good price" for a camel – it's okay to coo and take photos. The market is open daily from 7am to 10pm.

Al Maha, A Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai 

Whether you want to have a staycation or a daycation, Al Maha is a luxurious desert resort, nestled in the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. While hotel guests can make the most of the desert safari experiences, residents and tourists should check out the impressive day packages. The Al Maha Bedouin Package includes a dawn to dusk excursion, which transports you to and from your doorstep. It's all a little Indiana Jones, as you'll enjoy four desert activities, which includes a camel trek with sundowners. Watch the sunset as you ride camels, and celebrate your adventure with a glass of bubbly. The cost is AED 750.

Al Marmoom Heritage Village

You'll never forget your first camel race, which is why you should head down to Al Marmoom Heritage Village. Located 30 minutes from Dubai's centre, this brings the Emirati tradition of camel racing to exciting life. As the track is expansive, binoculars are encouraged but enthusiasm is necessary. From the grandstand, you can watch up to 60 camels darting down the track and trainers in their 4x4s cheering (well, hollering) them on. You'll find a mix of tourists, locals and the odd royal. The best time to visit is during Al Marmoom Heritage Festival, which usually falls during March and April. Plus, the camel racing season runs from October to April, and is often held early on the weekends.

Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre 

For a country that loves camels as much as the UAE, it's hard to believe that it only opened its first camel riding school in 2021. Arabian Desert Camel Riding Centre is the first officially licensed school dedicated to teaching camel riding, and is a welcoming place to create your own camel experiences in the UAE. While the practice is traditionally male-dominated, the school was started by a woman: German expat Linda Krockenberger. Today men and women join the classes where you can interact with camels on a personal level. During a beginner's class, you will walk and trot on a camel, and learn fun camel facts. Classes cost AED 150 for an adult and AED 100 for a child. 

Madinat Zayed Camel Beauty Pageant of Al Dhafra Festival 

Check out those fluttering eyelashes, beautiful lips and long legs – no, we're not talking about Miss World contestants, but the camel beauty pageant. The contests are taken so seriously, as camels with Botox are disqualified and winners are awarded sums as large as AED 600 million. The pageant takes place during Al Dharfra Festival, which celebrates Bedouin traditions. Watch competitions, falcon shows and horse riding. The event takes place annually in December in the Empty Quarter, which is two hours from Abu Dhabi.

The Beach, JBR 

There's nothing wrong with being a tourist, so make your way down to The Beach, JBR, for the ultimate holiday snap. Along this stunning shoreline you'll find a running track, restaurants, bars, and camel rides. If you head near Hilton Dubai The Walk, there's a local Bedouin with camels strolling the beach. While this is one of the cheesier camel experiences in the UAE, the result is a wish-you-were-here image – you on said camel and Dubai in the background. The experience starts from AED 50 for a ride and AED 25 to have your photo taken.

The Camel Farm 

Did you know that a camel can drink 100 litres at a time and endure thirst for up to four weeks? You'll learn such trivia and more at Dubai's The Camel Farm. This is one of the most family-friendly camel experiences in the UAE, as activities range from feeding to hugging therapy. You can ride camels inside the farm as well as for an hour in the surrounding desert. The farm is also home to chickens, deer, goats, pigeons, rabbits and sheep. Tickets cost AED 50 and include a guided tour as well as feeding session, plus the farm closes for the summer and reopens in October.